Around 60% of the world’s population lives in cities and urban areas. This is where 70% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated. We can make the biggest contribution to climate protection in urban centres, which is why we, the BMW Group, are getting involved here. We are part of society and are therefore responsible for the sustainable development of our planet. We are aware that a transformation towards increased sustainable mobility is a process that we can only actively shape by collaborating with all the people whom it affects. That’s why we have been working on innovative mobility concepts together with municipalities, companies, politicians and scientists for almost 30 years.
We are involved in a multitude of initiatives that promote electromobility, make traffic safer and transport more efficient, and which rethink connectivity – always with the aim of improving the quality of life in cities and urban areas.
Understanding various mobility requirements and developing needs-appropriate solutions.
For millions of commuters, our vehicles remain a part of everyday life that they cannot do without. So what can we do to change people’s behaviour and encourage them to use alternative transport for the last mile or avoid contributing to rush hour traffic? This is why we are working with urban administration, universities and cross-sectoral partners in order to understand mobility needs, identify potential and use this knowledge to find solutions. The aim is to show cities a future in which the mobility needs of their inhabitants are met while achieving sustainability goals.
Infrastructure is a crucial success factor.
"The point at which we achieve market penetration with electromobility is dependent on how fast the charging infrastructure is expanded. We have been committed to this aim for some time now: across the world, we have now installed more than 15,000 charging stations. We cannot allow the charging infrastructure to become the limiting factor that decides whether customers buy electric vehicles or not.”
Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG
A transformation towards electromobility requires an attractive electric ecosystem.
We are dedicated to accelerating the introduction of electromobility by considering the electric ecosystem as a whole and thereby making electromobility more attractive. This means we will be able to reduce the CO2 footprint of traffic and contribute to the sustainability goals of cities and municipalities. We are promoting the improved availability of infrastructure – in other words, public access to charging points, technical requirements and improvement of cost transparency (Charge Now). This also includes economically and ecologically feasible charging through the use of renewable energy, intelligent routing systems based on the location of suitable charging stations, mobility services for B2B customers for efficient fleet management and various mobility offerings for employees with information on their contribution to sustainability.
Intelligent traffic management for more sustainable driving pleasure.
The BMW Group is dedicated to making city traffic safer and more efficient. Together with cities, universities and other companies, we are analysing how the awareness of drivers can be increased in danger zones through time- and location-based messages with the help of traffic, vehicle and infrastructure data. Our solutions for increased spatial efficiency include narrow vehicle concepts, increasing vehicle occupancy (carpooling) and efficient road use in the public sphere (shared services). Our contribution to a better flow of traffic and thereby a reduction in CO2 emissions, traffic jams and pollution are intelligent routing services, which prevent the traffic generated by those searching for a parking space, multimodal transport options for switching to alternative modes of transport and highly and fully automated driving.
People with passion.
What do stakeholders at BMW Group tell cities and partners why they are involved, how they are involved, and what specifically is being done.
Flagship cities – sustainable mobility for cities worth living in.
The BMW Group has been working on concepts for the future of urban spaces with selected cities for almost 30 years. These include the flagship cities of Los Angeles, Beijing, Rotterdam and Munich. What do these cities have in common? Their growth is leading to increasingly dense residential and traffic areas. This means overloaded infrastructure, traffic jams, air pollution and noise. Every city has its own character.
Together with the city administration and cross-sectoral partners from industry and science, the BMW Group is developing pilot projects to make city traffic safer, more digitally networked and more sustainable. There are differences in how the projects are implemented. The BMW Group is helping to conceptualise individual plans that are oriented towards the prevailing conditions and needs of each city and its inhabitants. Participation in these pilot projects and urban labs allows us to learn and evaluate results. The aim is to implement individual solutions quickly and efficiently and to scale these for other cities and regions with similar conditions.
The megacity of Beijing is growing steadily, becoming more densely populated. Public spaces becoming increasingly scarce. At the same time, the 20 million inhabitants have an enormous need for mobility, which even the well-developed road and public transport networks cannot sufficiently satisfy.
The new Chinese urban development strategy aims to use digital means, among other things, to make cities more efficient, greener and more liveable – goals that the BMW Group shares and has been pursuing since 2016 with research projects and initiatives on sustainable urban mobility.
The BMW Group is working with the Beijing Transport Institute in the Reservation-based Mobility pilot project: drivers can reserve a specific time of day on busy roads, during which they are allowed to use a special lane. This is to incentivise off-peak driving and reduce congestion.
In order to ensure a sustainable implementation and use of the service, it is decisive to involve all relevant stakeholders with different demands, concerns and interests – such as government, enterprise, traffic management & operation authority, public travelers etc.
The Green Driving project is about incentivising drivers of hybrid vehicles or combustion vehicles to use their electric drive or the Eco Pro mode as much as possible in the city, reducing emissions.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area consists of 88 centres with widely scattered suburbs. They date back to a time when mobility was focused on car traffic. Public transport is little developed with thousands commuting long distances every day. At 83 per cent, the car is the most important means of transport, and 74 per cent of car commuters drive alone.
The BMW Group is working with institutes for transport studies at the University of California and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology to research people’s needs and their traffic behaviour in a mobility study. What would persuade people to abandon their own cars and switch to more sustainable modes of transport? This knowledge is critical to be able to plan affordable and reliable alternatives that will be sufficiently attractive to car-driving commuters.
The Munich region, with a population of around 6.2 million, is predicted to grow by up to 300,000 inhabitants in the coming years. This would put further pressure on parking, congestion and emissions issues. Munich is also Germany’s commuter capital. More than 500,000 people travel daily from the surrounding districts into the state capital. While Munich residents themselves do not necessarily rely on a vehicle, vehicles remain essential for daily transport for many commuters. New transport strategies therefore need to take individual mobility and demands into account.
The BMW Group is working in the Munich Mobile Future alliance with all key stakeholders on strategic solutions for the mobility of the future. The participants include the City of Munich, the surrounding districts, the Free State of Bavaria, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Siemens, MAN, the Munich Transport Company (MVG) and the Munich Transport and Tariff Association (MVV). The alliance aims to change mobility significantly, aiming for climate neutrality and a liveable city with better air quality.
Some of the core questions to be addressed are: How do the residents of the inner city want to live? What do they want for their neighbourhood? What form of transport do they need locally? Which services can be expanded or rolled out? How can the number of vehicles in the city centre be reduced, while at the same time ensuring efficient and suitable mobility solutions for everyone in the city?
The alliance aims to address these issues by developing living and mobility strategies together with the residents. Workshops are conducted to identify needs and work out solutions on how to combine different means of transport. For example, unused vehicles could be relocated to a “neighbourhood garage” and the space freed up could be used for recreation or other purposes.
One of the projects is about testing this transformation in a central Munich neighbourhood to gain new insights in a practical setting. It follows, therefore, that the project needs to be open-ended: although some specific actions are proposed (such as expanding vehicle sharing and similar mobility services) – the residents’ needs and ideas contribute important impetus to the planning. The project will then be jointly designed and implemented accordingly.
Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands and very densely populated. The metropolitan region is home to 2.4 million people and it continues to grow. As a city by the sea, Rotterdam is no stranger to the impacts of climate change, so it has a particularly keen interest in developing climate resilience and reducing emissions. Today, the city is a pioneer in electromobility – the availability of charging points is among the best in Europe.
Rotterdam is working with the BMW Group to develop ways of using the scarce space efficiently and make the city even more liveable. They are sharing information and working together in many projects and studies over the long term to improve the sustainability and safety of transport.
In 2021, they extended their existing cooperation agreement to 2027 in a memorandum of understanding. Rotterdam wants to gain better insight into what role the car should and can play in the future, what the innovations are and how drivers can make the best use of them. A few examples:
1. Electric City Drive. The study explored how drivers of plug-in hybrid vehicles could be persuaded in an entertaining way using an app to charge their car regularly and to use the electric mode of their car when driving in the city centre. The response was overwhelming: the study participants drove over 90 per cent of their routes in the city electrically. BMW has used the experience gained here to develop its eDriveZone and BMW Points functions. These are currently active in 147 cities in Europe.
2. Charge & Repark. This project contributes to using public charging points as efficiently as possible. An app informs drivers as soon as their vehicle is charged, shows them a nearby available parking space and asks them to move their car to free up the point for others.
3. Smart City Travel. This pilot project investigates which incentives are most likely to motivate commuters to park their cars at Park&Ride sites and switch to public transport, bikes and e-scooters to get to their final destination in the city centre.
4. Data Insights. Many cars have sensors that constantly collect data – for example on road conditions. This study explores how this information can be used anonymously to make inner-city traffic safer and improve road maintenance. It also explores the question of how cars can warn their drivers in real time about traffic jams, accidents or other hazardous situations.
5. Safe Drive Zones. This project aims to improve road safety and traffic flow by using the cars’ digital interface. The key question here is how do warning messages in the car – for example about speed limits or hazards of any kind – affect driving behaviour?
6. Vehicle-to-Grid. The question here is whether and how batteries from electric vehicles can be integrated into the power grid to better balance demand and supply. Can the grid make use of charged electric vehicles as a reserve when many other electric vehicles need to be charged? The pilot project took place in Kleinpolderplein, a district in the north-east that Rotterdam uses as a “living laboratory.”
The BMW Group pools expertise for urban mobility.
Since the 1990s, the BMW Group has been continuously expanding its collaboration with cities and pooling its expertise for urban mobility. This results in new approaches in the areas of the electric ecosystem, traffic management and mobility transformation. We are testing mobility concepts in a scalable framework with various projects so that we can concretely demonstrate impacts and make sound recommendations for feasible, individually tailored mobility solutions (City2Share Munich, Neue Mobilität Berlin, RealLab HH). The transition towards sustainable mobility is a social process involving a large number of stakeholders with different interests and individual needs. If we involve all stakeholders, we can be sure that the measures will also be successful in the long term.
Neue Mobilität Berlin.
A lack of space is one of the big challenges in Berlin. In “Deine Flotte” (Your Fleet) campaigns, residents of one district have been able to “trade in” their car for a limited period for multimodal mobility services, such as car sharing and e-bikes, since 2016.
Until 2021, residents in model districts in Munich and Hamburg were able to see how they could use space freed up by foregoing their private car for children’s and leisure activities while retaining their mobility through electric car and e-bike sharing.
The RealLabHH, which the BMW Group was involved with, was awarded the 2022 innovation prize by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Drivers were informed of approaching trains by in-car messages before they reached ungated level crossings, and pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders were warned of dangerous situations through messages on their smartphones.